Tokyo – A Japanese pastor has sued the country’s largest Protestant denomination, the United Church of Christ in Japan (UCCJ), over his dismissal for giving communion to congregants who were not baptized.
Rev. Jiro Kitamura hopes to regain his status as a minister, and seeks compensation of 10 million Japanese yen ($130,000 dollars), according to his petition. He says he was “discarded without discussion” by UCCJ executives “by force of numbers.”
According to his lawyers, the lawsuit is “not about doctrinal dispute on the communion,” but rather concerns “a violation of his basic human rights.” They say the suit will “focus on the procedural aspect” of the dismissal and “bring justice to a certain political force within the UCCJ,” since a court would not hear a case on religious doctrinal disputes.
“Through this lawsuit, I would like to criticize United Church’s control and prompt it to become a united church as it is meant to be, without discarding various differences, through patient dialogue for unity,” Kitamura told ENInews.
“I hope the disciplinary punishment of dismissal will be withdrawn, and hope to question the authoritative nature of the United Church,” he added.
UCCJ moderator Rev. Hideo Ishibashi says the church has no intention of withdrawing the punishment, and that Kitamura should repent and submit his request to the UCCJ to return to his position as a minister.
Kitamura’s dismissal was finalized at the UCCJ general assembly in October 2010. Though he had been told in 2007 to stop giving communion to unbaptized people or leave the church, Kitamura continued to defy the order at the UCCJ church in Yokohama, south of Tokyo.